Attacker in Afghan Uniform Kills 3 U.S. Troops

Matthew Rosenberg – New York Times August 10, 2012

A man dressed as an Afghan police officer has killed at least three American Special Forces soldiers after inviting them to eat dinner at a check post in southern Afghanistan, an Afghan official said on Friday, in what appeared to be a premeditated killing of American soldiers by their Afghan allies.

The American command in Afghanistan, which functions alongside the NATO-led coalition, issued a terse statement saying that three soldiers were killed by a man in an “Afghan uniform” — standard phrasing used by military authorities here when a member of the Afghan security forces kills a coalition service member.

The coalition did not provide any additional details of the attack.

But Muhammad Sharif, the governor of Sangin District of Helmand Province, where the killings took place, said a police commander had invited the Special Forces soldiers to eat dinner at his check post on Thursday. He then shot them when their guard was down, and fled, Mr. Sharif said.

The problem of Afghan forces killing their coalition counterparts has intensified in recent years in Afghanistan, where’s the military’s nomenclature for such violence — it calls them “green-on-blue” killings — has entered widespread usage. The latest episode, if confirmed, would bring the total number of coalition service members intentionally killed this year by Afghan forces to 34 in 25 attacks. In 2011, a total of 35 were killed in 21 attacks.

Coalition and Afghan officials say that much of the violence is because of personal disputes between the Afghans and their foreign partners, not the result of Taliban infiltration.

But the apparently preplanned nature of the killings on Thursday in Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan, raised the prospect of a deepening threat, either through internal plotting against coalition forces among some Afghan soldiers and police officers or Taliban infiltration.

An Afghan an employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan.

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